I work with John at Amethyst and I was thrilled to have the chance to interview him for this blog piece. He is incredibly kind, humble and has been a huge inspiration to me. He works tirelessly to help those that are still suffering and I am proud to call him my friend. I’m excited to share his journey with you!
What’s your name and clean date?
My name is John Coyle and my clean date is Jan 15th, 2015.
Your 5-year clean date is coming up, how do you feel?
I feel grateful! Everyone gets this at their own pace and there is no cookie cutter way to get sober. I deserved an honest chance, and I knew if I could stay true to the long term goal and was honest with myself, there was a good chance I may just stay sober.
Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Staten Island, NY, and raised in Jacksonville, Florida.
Tell me about your family; were you close?
My parents got divorced when I was about 2 years old. I have an older brother and sister, and we’re all about 6 years apart. My father was in and out of my life and we were never close.
What were you like as a kid?
I was a pretty good kid. I did well in school, and I played baseball and basketball all the way into high school.
Did you grow up seeing addiction somewhere in your family?
My father struggled with alcoholism and addiction throughout my entire life. He passed away in 2018 from liver complications due to his ongoing alcohol use.
How old were you when you first used?
I first used marijuana when I was twelve. I was at a friend’s house; we stole it from his mother. Honestly, I didn’t even realize what I was doing. The next time I used marijuana was my freshmen year in high school. I was with friends and we did it during the school day
How did your addiction progress?
I played baseball and basketball all the way into high school. Eventually, partying became more important that sports, so I quit. I did pick up bowling and excelled at it. Of course, I was often under the influence.
It just became an everyday thing while I was in high school. We would skip class and go drink and smoke weed. While the coaches were asking me to try out for their team, I was too busy having fun with my friends. Instead of being on the court or field playing, I was in the stands drunk and high. It didn’t progress too much more than that during school. I occasionally took a pain pill or Xanax but was never dependent on anything at the time.
How were your grades during high school?
I took all honors or advanced placement classes and despite my drinking and drugging, I managed to get good grades. During my senior year, I was eligible for Florida bright futures due to maintaining good grades, but I didn’t even take the time to write a scholarship letter and apply for college. I was more interested in partying than planning my future.
What did you do after high school?
After high school I didn’t know what to do with myself. I had so much downtime and the only thing we did was party. I got into trouble several times with the law; I think I was arrested six times. I thought it would be best for me to enroll into a local community college and go back to school. I applied for financial aid and enrolled into Florida State Community College of Jacksonville.
How did you like college?
Well, on the second day I was on my way to class and a lady ran a red light and t-boned my car. I can still remember it so vividly. The poor woman had epilepsy and shouldn’t have been behind the wheel. My car was totaled, and I was taken to a local hospital.
I went to an attorney the following day and got set up with physical therapy. While attending therapy, the doctor was prescribing me 56 – 10mg Percocets every 3 weeks. The pain pills coupled with marijuana and alcohol became my daily life. I just knew THIS is how I wanted to feel every single day of my life. I felt completely free and out of self. I felt self-confident for the first time ever.
What happened next?
I began to use cocaine and heroin and my entire life was dedicated to finding drugs and getting high. In 2013 I was hospitalized for 8 1/2 weeks with endocarditis, a heart infection, from IV drug use. You would think that would be enough for me to stop, right? Not even close, I was shooting dope into my picc line before I left the hospital. The madness continued!
How long did this go on?
Over the course of the next five years and I probably spent nearly three years of that in and out of jail on a regular basis.
How did your family handle your addiction?
They hated it because I was the kid who they thought would go off to college and do great things with his life. It was always, “why can’t you stop?” or “why can’t you get it together?” or “you should be in school!”
Tell me about the moment you decided to get clean.
Bottom line was that I was tired. I had lost so much time that I knew I would never get back. I was tired of hurting my family. My life felt stagnant because everyone that I went to school with was doing good things; finishing school, getting good jobs, and making lives that looked nothing like the one I was living. I was mentally and physically spent. I needed to change or I knew I was going to end up dead.
Did you attend treatment?
It took me four attempts at treatment before it finally stuck. I attended state funded facilities and private facilities. But it wasn’t until I left the local area to get help that I finally stayed clean. I remained in sober living for 14 months before I moved out on my own. I knew I needed a solid foundation of recovery if I was going to stay clean and sober.
How is your relationship with your family now?
I have an incredible relationship with my family. I recently lost my grandma who I was very close to. It’s been very difficult, but I’m glad that she got to see me sober.
What has life been like since you got clean?
Life has turned out even more amazing than I could’ve ever dreamed. I recently got married to the most beautiful woman in the world. We have 4 cats and a dog named, ‘Ramsey.’ I have a great relationship with my family. I have a career that I love. And I am grateful for all the gifts I’ve been given in recovery.
Our team would like to wish John a huge congratulations on celebrating his five-year sober birthday! You are truly an inspiration and we could not be prouder of you!
If you or somebody you love is struggling with substance abuse, please call our 24/7 addiction support line at (855) 323-2326 and we will do everything we can to help!